Alright, yet another dramatic title, but we’ll get to that.
Today we travelled to Phi Phi Town. To get there you have to take a longboat around the island. The trip is once again amazing. Seeing all the mountains jutting out of the sea, the beautiful colors, and all the lush vegetation is amazing. There is definitely nothing like this in our “normal” life.
Just like the rest of the island, when you land in Phi Phi Town, you have to jump out of the boat, into the shallow water and walk up onto the beach. It is pretty cool to feel like you’re just pulling in where ever and that there are no marinas filling with million dollar yachts. Instead, you just walk on to the beach, and into the thick of it. And boy is it thick.
Phi Phi Town is, in a word, a craphole (okay, that’s two words I jammed together to make the phrase work). It is a tourist trap, filled with thousands of people in a very tiny area, with bad restaurants, bars, tourist junk stores, massage parlors, resorts, and hostels. The only saving grace of the town itself is the number of tour group offices which get you out of the town and around the island doing things like snorkeling, deep sea diving, rock climbing, and other fun things.
Our plan in coming to town was to spend the day there, see the sights and at night hike up to the viewpoint just outside of town and see the sunset. Only problem was, we didn’t really understand in going that there isn’t much to spend a whole day on in this place. So leaving at noon was just a tad too early.
We started in the front area of the the town, and marveled at how small the place was. We wandered around what seemed to be the whole of everything, and finally stopped for something to eat. The food was passable, but far from what I would call good. That’s okay though, it got the job done. Next we decided to get Thai massages. The great thing about massage parlors here is that you can get an hour massage for around 250 baht, which in case your calculator is too far to reach, turns out to be about $8. Not too shabby.
A Thai massage is different from what you would normally get in the US, which is more akin to a Sweedish massage; you know, the kind where they rub you and make you feel good. Instead, in the Thai way, a massage is more like a wrestling match, where the masseuse puts a number of holds on you, in an attempt to get you to tap out and submit, which I definitely did at one point. Overall, for as different (and painful) as they are, they are quite effective in stretching you out in ways that you wouldn’t likely do on your own. So in the end, for as much as I complained–before, during, and after–they are definitely worth your time and money.
Next we decided to walk around a little bit more, seeing as we still had 3.5 hours till sunset. Low and behold, we walked down one small street, that looked like a dead end, but actually led to an entirely different (and larger) part of town. In fact, it was mostly different in that this is where most of the hostels and bars are located, which means one thing, this is where people come to party.
On the plus side, it is also where the swimming beach is located, which was mostly nice. See, Phi Phi Town is located in a small band connecting the upper island, with the lower island. On each side is a bay. The one we came in on is where all of the boats come in, this new side as it turns out is where people come to swim. At first glance the beach, though while highly populated, contained all the beautiful water and scenery of other parts of the island, but when you actually turn around and look at the sand and the buildings surrounding it, you see it for what it is, a trash hole where thousands of tourists come and take a dump. Graphic, I know.
As an aside, we’re very lucky to be staying where we are.
Anyway, we stayed for a little while and then decided to go looking for the viewpoint, so we did what I do best, picked a direction and walked until we find it. While this is probably one of the things I do that annoys Lauren the most, in this case it actually worked and we soon found a sign that said “Viewpoint” with an arrow pointing up an intimidating looking vertical staircase.
So we climbed.
And we climbed some more.
And then we stopped. Paid some lady 40 baht. And we climbed some more.
Until we reached viewpoint 1, where we sat for a while and rested a bit. Our goal was to go for the secret, somewhat unmarked viewpoint 3. So after a half hour or so of enjoying the view, we moved on again. This time, the staircase turned in a nearly vertical cement walkway, that for a few minutes I thought would cause me to slide backward out of my sandals, tumbling down the mountain. though I dug in with my toes and trudged on.
Then we found viewpoint 2, which we immediately skipped, veering off to the right down a small path, passed another woman demanding baht in Thai–whom we placated with out tickets from before–and continued on.
The path to viewpoint 3 was much less defined and had us following paths through the woods, with forks in the road that were unmarked. So we followed people that appears to be in front of us and moved on. Walking, climbing, trying to survive the heat, until we made it, up the side passed an old house and onto a half built platform of the side of a very high hill. We made it.
The view from here was quite amazing. We stayed for about an hour, watching not only the sun crawl further and further toward the horizon, but also tourists climbing onto precarious structure, voraciously taking selfies (seriously, one woman must have take 500 selfies at different angles).
The sunset was an amazing sight to see, but it was over too quickly and we had to finally wind our way back toward town. Darkness came quickly, but luckily we didn’t get lost. Nor did we fall down the vertical stairs (though I thought I would once or twice with my gargantuan feet). Instead we made it back to town, wound our way through town, back to the boats, where our last challenge awaited us, as it seems no one wants to travel back by longboat at night. I mean, who could blame them, dark waters, low tides, and no lights sounds like a bad combination.
Luckily we found a man willing to take us and after pushing his boat across the now too shallow water, he navigated his way around the danger, up the island and back to our resort for us. We ended the night saying thank you (kop kun cup), giving him a little more baht than he had asked for and having a nice dinner; back in paradise.